Freewheeling through the evergreen patchwork of Victorian countryside, a Samoan chief (with a kiwi accent) steering the ride, this day trip down to the Great Ocean Road’s Apostles (once there were Twelve), was worth the long day journey to this gloriously eroded stretch of coast.
Heading Southwest out of Melbourne, we took an early pit stop in Geelong, a bay city of just over 170,000 people around an hour from Melbourne city. One of my (and probably yours too) skills is to be able to seek out places to eat/stay/shop/visit in a place at short notice. Which brings us to breakfast at Freckleduck (I didn’t say I’m skilled at seeking out well-named places!). And holy shitballs will you take a look at that ricotta, seed and maple covered, mascarpone (how do you hide a small horse?)-topped hotcake pile of deliciousness!? The coffee was great too. This was a very good omen for the day ahead.
For this trip, I was reuniting with my ‘ol buddy Phil (not my fiance Phil, this Phil) who moved to Melbourne around six months back, and since that New Zealand mountainous road trip adventure he has been made chief of his village in Samoa! So, we will hence refer to him as The Chief. He still lives in Melbourne though. He reports his village is fine without him for now.
We took the inland route along the A1, which at picturesque-farmland-best made me twitch and want to stop and take photos at every asphalt turn. I didn’t though, as the trip down was already just shy of three hours and we were anxious to get to the coast while the sky was brilliant blue (of which I am so very grateful, the weather had been rubbish for weeks!).
Once out of the car, we sauntered down a path that had an eclectic mix of coastal vegetation and tourists, and a light sea mist that rose over the cliffs…
The Twelve Apostles are a series of limestone peaks out to sea, located in the Port Campbell National Park, which is along the Great Ocean Road in Victoria. I’d never been this far down the Great Ocean Road, having travelled as far as Lorne for Falls Festival back at the year 2000 to boogie through the three-day New Years Eve event (Violent Femmes played in the New Year if you are wondering, and I still haven’t forgiven them for not playing the Kiss Off count-down backwards to midnight).
Laying eyes on these defiant cuts of earth, standing still among the swirling whitewash that slowly shaves at their sides, is a beautiful experience. The lunchtime winter sun blew out the sea mist even more, making for lovely hazy photographs. I’m sure the morning sunlight would be a very special time to shoot them, and this is when I plan to make my next approach.
DETOUR: London Arch
A further 35 minute drive from the Twelve Apostles, through the town of Port Campbell (in which we spied a pretty tempting outdoor pub area across from the ocean), you come across London Arch, formerly called London Bridge. This limestone formation used to be more bridge-like until 1990, when the section which joined it to land crumbled into the ocean, leaving two visitors stranded and in need of rescue. These days you peruse this little wonder from the safety of a couple of viewing platforms, well and truly on land. But I guess once upon a time those Apostles were safe on land, and look at these poor buggers now.
We wound our way back to Melbourne an alternate route, hugging the Great Ocean Road for a time before veering into the Otway Forest Park. This was a spectacular drive through the forest, which periodically opened out to vast stretches of canopy shining under the golden hour of light. Don’t tell any Melbournites (especially The Chief – I want him to move back to Sydney), but I was falling a little in love with Victoria.
Speaking of Victoria, I also on this trip visited one of my new fave places in Australia, Daylesford, where we (my fiance Phil this time) soaked in natural hot springs, stayed in the magnificent local pub, visited a lavender farm and more, read about it here.